^^ Taken in the toy aisle of Montauk’s only drugstore after I finally stopped crying. Please excuse my bangs, it was really windy next to the beach. ^^
Okay, this blog’s title is technically a lie. My actual first published article was for a limo and bus magazine in 2010. I wrote about a company’s new inclusion of LED lights in their party buses and while I don’t doubt the piece rocked 15-35 peoples’ lives, there is a high chance it was enjoyed mostly by bunnies whose owners used it to line their cages.
I’ll be the first to admit, this post is a bit self-indulgent. I just didn’t want to lose any of the photos and notes people sent me after seeing my article.
I originally started pitching this piece about a year ago. It was rejected by eight other magazines before my cold call to Psychology Today caught an editor’s notice and after a few up and downs, I got assigned the piece (Huzzah!) … to have filed in two weeks (*begins chugging wine directly from the bottle*). Thus began one of the most stressful, frazzled weeks of my life that eventually ended in what is now on newsstands. I didn’t expect to run into the magazine in Montauk. I had walked in to buy sunscreen because, well, just take a good look at me, and spied a corner of Psych Today tucked behind an avalanche of bridal magazines.
Seeing the artwork for the first time, my little photograph under the author introductions and dedication to my dad, I pretty much spent the first couple hours of my Montauk vacation crying in their town square. I’m so proud of this piece. Every time I see it out in the world I get a little choked up, both because of this specific piece and the five years of work it represents.
I used to fearfully think, what if I had never randomly signed up for that introductory journalism class? It was such a whim choosing that class, it wasn’t in my major and I’d never written any type of journalism before. But I’ve come to believe, like all great love stories, writing and I were always meant to find each other. Pulled along by the red string of fate, that class then lead me into a double major and later, my first job at a magazine in Orange County that coincidentally wrote about YouTube. The last piece I wrote before they were shut down, a piece I wasn’t even supposed to publish, was the piece Earnest found and propelled him to hire me on YouTube Nation. That lead to New York and YouTube, but along the way, I just kept writing. And writing and growing and writing and somehow here we are.
^^ My former journalism teacher shared my article on her social media and my heart pretty much exploded. She’s the most badass lady writer I know so to get this little notification was pretty surreal. ^^
The thing is, when I first started out, I was NOT a good writer. Hell, I read stuff from last year and cringe. In the beginning, the process of starting a story often felt clunky. My classmates would blow me away with their vivid descriptions and metaphors, and I was still trying to figure out what to report on. For a long time I felt like an imposter. There were the real journalists and then there was me, just kind of chugging along with no idea of what I was doing. But in the end, I loved talking to people so much. Like my favorite lady detectives, journalism allowed me to dig into the motives and stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things (or extraordinary people doing ordinary things!). Who isn’t curious to sit inside someone’s brain and heart for a day? Or a week? Or a year!
As my teacher Erika Hayasaki once told our class, writing is 90 percent hard work and 10 percent talent. You know what? She was so right. She was a thousand percent right! I want to go back and tell my younger self, “IT WILL ALL WORK OUT, THIS ADVICE REALLY WORKS! STOP BEING SO STRESSED!”
(Though yelling at a stressed person rarely works.)
The only reason I’ve continued growing as a writer is because I’m too curious to mind my own business and too stubborn to stop pitching. That’s the big secret. That’s my Big Magic.
This post is a big thank you to all of you for reading and sending so much love these last couple weeks. But mostly this post is my way of saying that it’s entirely possible to accomplish your biggest, wildest dreams. It’s a ton of hard work, gumption, and some thick skin, but all great love stories started with one tiny step.
Hell, if a kid who can’t do phonic can write an article for a major magazine, you better believe your dreams are possible.